Webtoon (publisher)

Webtoon[a] (stylized in all caps) is a South Korean webtoon publisher launched in 2004 by Naver Corporation. As the name suggests, it publishes webtoons, compact digital comics in South Korea.

WEBTOON
Naver Line Webtoon logo.png
Type of site
Webtoon platform
Available inKorean, Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Spanish, Thai
OwnerWebtoon Entertainment Inc.
Created byJunKoo Kim
URLKorean website
English website
CommercialYes
RegistrationOptional
Launched
  • 2004 (South Korea)
  • 2014 (English, Chinese, Thai)
  • 2015 (Indonesian, Japanese)
  • 2019 (Japanese, Spanish, French)
  • 2021 (German)
Current statusActive

The platform first launched in Korea as Naver Webtoon and then globally as Line Webtoon in July 2014, as the Naver brand is not well known outside of Korea and some of its services are also not available outside of the country. The service gained a large amount of traction during the late 2000s and early 2010s. In 2016, Naver's webtoon service entered the Japanese market as XOY and the Chinese market as Dongman Manhua.[1][2] On December 18, 2018, Naver closed XOY and migrated all of its translated and original webtoons to Line Manga, its manga service that offers licensed manga.[3] In 2019, Line Webtoon was changed to Webtoon in English; Spanish and French versions were launched.

The platform partners with creators to publish original content under the Webtoon Originals[4] banner and hosts a number of other series on its self-publishing site CANVAS.[5] Line Webtoon comics can be discovered through the "daily system" function, along with being read and downloaded for free on computers and both iOS and Android devices.[6][7] In November 2020, Webtoon established a new subsidiary called Webtoon Studios for the purpose of licensing licensing English-language properties.[8]

HistoryEdit

Line Webtoon was founded by JunKoo Kim in 2004, under the name "Webtoon", after he watched the manhwa industry crash in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kim, who grew up reading Japanese comics and superhero manhwa, was looking for a way to get new comics created because he found that there were very few new comics coming out. Kim theorized that tall, scrollable comics would work well on the World Wide Web, as users were already used to scrolling through web pages. Because of this unusual layout, Kim initially had difficulty finding artists to create webtoons on his service, but he found that manhwa was willing to do something different because of the poor state of the local manhwa industry.[9]

Global launchEdit

On July 2, 2014, the Line Webtoon website and mobile app were launched worldwide, allowing international artists to upload their own works to the service. Hundreds of webtoons are available in the self-publishing section of Webtoon, known as CANVAS, where artists can be paid based on page views.[10] Naver Corporation selected 42 webtoons (including Noblesse, Tower of God, and The God of High School) and one new webtoon by an American artist to be available on the service in English at launch.[11][12] According to 148 Apps, the service offered "plenty of content" at launch, as seven to ten webtoons were updated each day and the webtoons spanned various genres.[13]

PartnershipsEdit

In April 2013, Naver Webtoon created a Profit Page Share program. This compensation program that allow artists to get a larger profit through advertisements or their own personal stores, but is shared between NHN Corp and the artists themselves.[6][14]

In 2015, Line Webtoon partnered with American comics veteran Stan Lee, Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri, and make-up artist Michelle Phan in order to promote their service.[15][16] Silvestri brought his long-running comics series Cyberforce to the platform.[17] Various other established American comic book artists and cartoonists have also partnered with Line Webtoon over time, including Dean Haspiel (New Brooklyn),[18] Katie Cook (Nothing Special),[19] Seth Kushner and Shamus Beyale (The Brooklynite),[20] and Tracy J. Butler (Lackadaisy).[21]

In September 2016, Line Webtoon partnered with the Patreon crowdfunding service, incorporating a "Patreon button" in the "Discover" portion of the website. This function creates an easier channel for readers and artists to mutually communicate.[22] Naver invested US$3.6 million and $1,000 every following month for webtoon creators who reached a certain threshold of activity and popularity with a Patreon page.[21][23] One month later, Naver signed with the Creative Artists Agency for film and television opportunities in the United States.[24]

Line Webtoon also partnered with DeviantArt in the second half of 2016, in the form of the "Artist Alley Tour". The companies were active at four Comic Cons: Boston Comic Con, Baltimore Comic Con, Rose City Comic Con, and New York Comic Con. Here, Line Webtoon and DeviantArt held discussion panels, "Artist Alley Sponsorships", live draw events, influencer and creator demonstration areas, and on-site contests.[25][26]

In 2017 Line Webtoon and Legendary Comics expanded their partnership with the addition of John Barrowman's Acursian and season 2 of Firebrand.[27][28]

In 2018 included partnering with Noble Transmission and Common for the new Caster series.[29]

In 2019 Webtoon's digital content subsidiary LICO collaboratively produced with Big Hit Entertainment to release Save Me as part of the latter's BTS Universe (BU) which revolves around the output of South Korean boy band BTS.[30]

On October 15, 2019, Crunchyroll and Line Webtoon announced a partnership to produce animated works of Line Webtoon's catalog. The two will team up to tackle the distribution, licensing, and retail of the series produced from the partnership.[31]

In May 2020, it was announced that Webtoon was being transferred to Naver Webtoon Corp.[32]

On January 19, 2021, Webtoon's parent company Naver acquired the popular user-written story site Wattpad. Wattpad will be partnering with Webtoon—which it had already done in its 2020 Watty Awards Contest—to provide more opportunities for creators.[33]

In June 2021, Wattpad and Webtoon announced that the companies will merge their studio divisions to create Wattpad Webtoon Studios.[34]

In August 2021, it was announced that Webtoon would be partnering with DC Entertainment to create standalone webcomics that “will appeal to all fans, without the need to know or read any previous stories.”[35]

UserbaseEdit

The userbase of Webtoon grew rapidly after the service was released globally, with 10 million people reading on the platform daily and 35 million people monthly.[36] In Asia, several webtoons receive 5 million views per week.[36] In 2016, 42% of the webtoon creators on Line Webtoon were female, as were 50% of its 6 million active daily readers.[37][38] 75% of the users in North America are 24 or younger and 64% are female.[39][40]

As of July 1, 2019, Webtoon has grown to more than 100 billion views annually.[41]

ContestsEdit

Naver Corporation has held various comics competitions through its Webtoon service. In 2015, Line launched the "Challenge League", a recurring competition where amateur artists have the chance to become an "official Line webtoon artist", as well as win tens of thousands of US Dollars. Over 19,000 people joined the first English-language Challenge League in February 2015, which was won by Stephen McCranie's Space Boy.[42] Local Challenge Weeks were also held; the first Thai Challenge League was held in April 2015 and had a grand prize of 1 million baht.[43]

In June 2015, Naver Corporation hosted the Science Fiction Comics Contest, a global competition with a grand prize of US$30,000. JunKoo Kim called science fiction, the theme of the competition, "both the broadest and fastest-growing area in comics and entertainment, [and thus] a natural fit as the genre for our second comics contest." This contest had over 800 entrants and was won by Srinitybeast's Overdrive.[44][45]

In November 2018, Webtoon hosted their Discover Creator Contest. The winner, Kris Nguyen's Cape of Spirits, received a grand total of US$80,000 and an exclusive contract for the series.[46]

On February 28, 2020 "The Short Story Contest" was announced. Running from April 30 to June 30, the contest was split into two categories: "Heart" and "Brain". The grand prize winners of each category would get US$15,000, an animated short, and a featured contract,[47] with the subsequent winners being Marvin W.'s The Monster Under My Bed for "Heart" and Kotopopi's The Ladder for "Brain".[48] The grand prize, silver, and bronze contest winners were published in two anthologies: The HEART Anthology, which released in September 2020,[49] and the BRAIN Anthology, which released in October 2020.[50]

Between April 2020 and July 2020, Webtoon ran an interactive contest series titled Webtoon GREENLiGHT wherein nine titles were selected and pitched to readers. The readers then voted (by liking the series' episodes) on which series would be "greenlit" as new Original series. Within one week, each series had to reach a record threshold of 60,000 likes on its third episode in order to be "greenlit" for publication.[51] All nine series succeeded and are set to be released in 2021.[52]

Other mediaEdit

Various movies, Korean dramas, animated series, and video games have been produced based on webtoons released on Naver Corporation's service. According to JunKoo Kim in 2014, "a total of 189 books, videos and games based on Naver webtoons have either been produced or are in the process of being made."[12] However, Line Webtoon's first entry of video content in the United States came in 2016, in the form of an animated film based on Noblesse.[53]

On November 7, 2016, Air Seoul announced that it had collaborated with Line Webtoon to produce pre-flight safety demonstration videos. Some of the works featured in these include Denma, The Sound of Heart, and Noblesse.[54]

In July 2019, Webtoon produced their first promotional animated short series from one of their exclusive originals, My Giant Nerd Boyfriend.[55] A second set of promotions, from the work Let's Play, was released in September, 2019.[56]

In October 2019, Crunchyroll revealed on Instagram that it would be collaborating with Webtoon to release animated series based on selected webtoons as a part of its "Crunchyroll Originals" project. In February 2020, Crunchyroll announced that Noblesse, Tower of God, and The God of High School were chosen for later release.[57]

AdaptationsEdit

Other media into webtoonsEdit

Some webtoons on the platform are adaptations of YA novels, including Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath & the Dawn, Rebecca Schaeffer's Not Even Bones, Hanna Alkaf's The Weight of the Sky, Victoria Lee's The Fever King, Nicki Pau Preto's Crown of Feathers and more.[citation needed]

Many South Korean webtoons on the platform are adaptations of web novels, including titles such as Omniscient Reader, The Remarried Empress, So I Married the Anti-Fan, She Would Never Know, Like Wind on a Dry Branch, and more.

On June 23, 2021, it was announced that 2018 film On Your Wedding Day is adapted into a webtoon, to be serialized on webtoon platforms Naver and Kakao.[58]

A webtoon based on TV series Our Beloved Summer is under production. The webtoon, a prequel about the high school days of the two main characters of the TV series (Choi Woong and Kuk Yeon-su), is scheduled to be released on Naver Webtoon in falls of 2021.[59]

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, a series based on the Batman family from DC Comics began serialization in September 2021.[60]

Webtoons into other mediaEdit

Below is a list of Naver Webtoon titles adapted into television series, web series, and films.

Title Author Format Premiere Notes Reference
Welcome to Convenience Store
(와라! 편의점)
Ji Kang-min Animated series January 17, 2012 Broadcast on Tooniverse [61]
The Cliff
(절벽귀)
Oh Seong-dae Omnibus film June 5, 2013 Adapted in the first episode [62]
Fashion King
(패션왕)
Kim Hee-min Film November 6, 2014 YLAB, Nomad Films [63]
Dr. Frost
(닥터 프로스트)
Lee Jong-beom TV series November 23, 2014 Broadcast on OCN [64][65]
Orange Marmalade
(오렌지 마말레이드)
Seok-woo TV series May 15, 2015 Broadcast on KBS2 [66][67]
We Broke Up
(우리 헤어졌어요)
Ryu Chae-rin Web series June 29, 2015 Broadcast on Naver TV and YouTube [68][69]
Noblesse
(노블레스)
Son Jeho and Lee Kwangsu Animation December 4, 2015 DVD release by Woongjin Thinkbig Funnism [70]
ONA February 4, 2016 Crunchyroll release [71]
Anime October 7, 2020 [72][73]
Cheese in the Trap
(치즈인더트랩)
Soonkki TV series January 4, 2016 Broadcast on tvN [74][75][76]
Film March 14, 2018 Exclusive premiere in CGV theaters [77]
Lucky Romance
(운빨로맨스)
Kim Dal-nim TV series May 25, 2016 Broadcast on MBC [78]
Let's Fight, Ghost
(싸우자귀신아)
Im Man-sup TV series July 11, 2016 Broadcast on tvN [79][80][81]
The Sound of Your Heart
(마음의 소리)
Jo Seok Web series November 7, 2016 Broadcast on Naver TV and KBS2 [82]
ONA September 20, 2018 Naver Webtoon YouTube Channel release
Web Series October 29, 2018 Netflix release [83]
Tales of the Unusual
(기기괴괴)
Oh Seong-dae TV Special April 29, 2017 Adapts short story My Wife's Memories in an episode [84]
ONA February 21, 2019 Naver Webtoon YouTube Channel release
Animated Film September 9, 2020 Adapts the short story Beauty Water [85][86]
Do It One More Time
(한번 더 해요)
Hong Seung-pyo and Kim Hye-yeon TV series October 13, 2017 Broadcast on KBS2 [87][88][89]
unTOUCHable
(언터처블)
massstar Web series November 20, 2017 Broadcast on Sohu TV [90]
Along with the Gods
(신과함께)
Joo Ho-min Film December 20, 2017 Realies Pictures, Dexter Studios [91]
Film August 1, 2018 [92]
Student A
(여중생 A)
Heo 5 Pa 6 Film June 20, 2018 Lotte Entertainment [93]
Girls of the Wild's
(소녀더와일즈)
Hun and Zhena TV series July 23, 2018 Broadcast on Hunan TV [94]
My ID is Gangnam Beauty
(내 ID는 강남미인!)
Gi Meng-gi TV series July 27, 2018 Broadcast on JTBC [95][96][97][98][99]
Before We Knew It
(文学処女)
Nakano Mayaka TV series September 9, 2018 Broadcast on MBS and TBS [100][101]
Tale of Fairy
(계룡선녀전)
Dol Bae TV series November 5, 2018 Broadcast on tvN [102]
A Fake Affair
(偽装不倫)
Higashimura Akiko TV series July 10, 2019 Broadcast on Nippon TV [103]
Hell Is Other People
(타인은 지옥이다)
Kim Yong-ki TV series August 31, 2019 Broadcast on OCN [104][105][106]
Pegasus Market
(쌉니다 천리마마트)
Kim Gyu-sam TV series September 20, 2019 Broadcast on tvN [107][108][109]
Lookism
(외모지상주의)
Park Tae-joon Web series September 26, 2019 Broadcast on Tencent Video [110]
The Tale of Nokdu
(녹두전)
Hye Jin-yang TV series September 30, 2019 Broadcast on KBS2 [111]
Eggnoid Archie the RedCat Film December 5, 2019 No US release yet [112][113][114]
Welcome
(어서와)
Go A-ra TV series March 25, 2020 Broadcast on KBS2 [115][116]
Tower of God
(신의 탑)
Lee Jong-hui Anime April 1, 2020 Crunchyroll release [117][118]
Odd Girl Out
(소녀의 세계)
Morangg Web series April 22, 2020 Broadcast on Naver TV, V LIVE, and YouTube [119]
Boy and Girl Straight Out of Cartoon
(만찢남녀)
Nimni Web series June 25, 2020 Broadcast on YouTube and MBC [120][121]
The God of High School
(갓 오브 하이스쿨)
Park Yong-je Anime July 6, 2020 Crunchyroll release [122][123][118][124]
Love Revolution
(연애혁명)
232 Web series September 1, 2020 Broadcast on KakaoTV and Naver SERIES [125][126]
Marry Me!
(マリーミー!)
Miku Yuki TV series October 3, 2020 Broadcast on TV Asahi and ABC TV [127][128]
True Beauty
(여신강림)
Yaongyi TV series December 9, 2020 Broadcast on tvN [129][130][131]
Sweet Home
(스위트홈)
Kim Carn-by and Hwang Young-chan Web series December 18, 2020 Netflix release [132][133][134][135]
My Roommate Is a Gumiho
(간 떨어지는 동거)
Na TV series May 26, 2021 Broadcast on tvN [136]
Nevertheless
(알고있지만)
Jung Seo TV series June 19, 2021 Netflix release [137]
Yumi's Cells
(유미의 세포들)
Lee Dong-gun TV series September 17, 2021 tvN and TVING release [138]
Animated film TBA Produced by Locus Corporation (a.k.a. Sidus Animation Studios) [139]
Hellbound
(지옥)
Yeon Sang-ho and Choi Kyu-seok TV series November 19, 2021 Adaptation of animations by Yeon Sang-ho.
Netflix release
[140]
All of Us Are Dead
(지금 우리 학교는)
Joo Dong-geun TV series January 28, 2022 Netflix release [141][142]
Love and Leashes
(모럴센스)
Gyeoul Film February 11, 2022 [143]
Tomorrow
(내일)
Llama TV series April 1, 2022 [144][145]
Heartstopper Alice Oseman TV series April 22, 2022 [146]
Annarasumanara
(안나라수마나라)
Ha Il-kwon TV series May 6, 2022 [147]
Sixth Sense Kiss
(키스 식스 센스)
Got W (Gatnyeo) TV series May 25, 2022 Disney+ release [148]
Rest in Peace
(고인의 명복)
Jo Joo-hee TBA TBA [149]
Vigilante
(비질란테)
CRG, Kim Gyu-sam Film TBA TBA [109][107]
The Romantic, Fake Marriage
(완벽한 쇼윈도)
TBA TBA TBA Adaptation of the Web Novel by Rose Bean. [150][151]
A Good Day to be a Dog
(오늘도 사랑스럽개)
Lee Hey TBA TBA [152]
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures CRC Payne TV series TBA [153][154]

See alsoEdit

  • Line Manga
  • Studio N, a film studio that produces drama adaptations of Naver Webtoon series

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Naver Webtoon in Korean; Line Manga in Japanese; Dongman Manhua and Webtoon in Chinese; Webtoon in English, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Thai, Xhosa, and German

ReferencesEdit

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  34. ^ Wattpad and WEBTOON Merge Studio Divisions to create Wattpad WEBTOON Studios, a Fully Funded, Fan-Driven Global Entertainment Powerhouse
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